Rovers Under-18s produced an impressive second-half display, as they returned to winning ways with a 3-1 victory over Newcastle United.
Having gone two games without a win, Mike Sheron’s side faced further frustration when they trailed 1-0 at the break, but an inspired fightback, with second-half strikes from Evan Cunningham, Kristi Montgomery and Joe Ferguson, saw Rovers secure the points.
A young Rovers side, which included debutant Matty Litherland in the centre of defence, struggled to find their rhythm in the first half.
Newcastle created the better chances, with Josh Gilchrist heading straight at Felix Goddard and Kyle Crossley firing into the side-netting, before the visitors took a deserved lead on the stroke of half-time when Michael Ndiweni prodded home from a yard out after Rovers failed to clear a cross from the left.
However, Rovers responded brilliantly after the break, with the impressive Zak Gilsenan carrying the fight. And it was from his free-kick on 52 minutes that saw the hosts draw level, with Cunningham steering Gilsenen’s excellent delivery into the back of the net.
Moments later, Cunningham teed up Charlie Weston on the edge of the area, but he blazed over the bar. However, at the midway point in the half, Rovers did double their advantage, as Georgie Gent broke free down the left, before pulling the ball back from the byline for Montgomery to slot home.
The best goal of the afternoon arrived 18 minutes from time when Ferguson let fly from 20 yards out, with his stunning strike arrowing into the top right corner.
Rovers threw their bodies on the line late on, making brilliant blocks in quick succession to keep Newcastle out, as they returned to winning ways, which saw them move three points clear of local rivals Burnley in the table and with a chance of finishing fifth.
Sheron’s side conclude their campaign at home to Leeds United this Saturday, kick-off 11am.
ROVERS: Goddard, Ferguson, Haddow, Litherland (Olsen 89), Pratt, Gent, Weston (Caddick 70), Montgomery (Fyles 69), Wood, Gilsenan, Cunningham.
Subs not used: Dowling.
Goals: Cunningham (52), Montgomery (66), Ferguson (72)
NEWCASTLE: Banda, Scott, Barclay, Gilchrist, De Bolle (Carlyon 80), Stephenson, Ndiweni, Nicholson, Crossley, Stewart (Robertson 77), Huntley.
Subs not used: Thomson, Chrystal, Green.
Goal: Ndiweni (45)